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iOS 11, Complexion Reduction & Apple’s New User Interface

Why iOS 11 needs to unify Apple’s User Interface

Looking at iOS in its current state, it is clear that Apple’s mobile operating system is lacking consistency and polish in certain areas. With iOS 10, Apple redesigned their Music, News and Maps apps, with slide up cards, added translucency and bigger typography. It is also worth noting the contrast between iOS and Android. Google’s Material Design has become the defacto set of guidelines and components for UX designers, mainly due to it’s breadth of detail but also it’s consistency in UI. Apple is largely playing catchup in this area.

Apple were not the only company to revamp their UI for a more stripped down experience — other apps like Airbnb favoured this approach and implemented it beautifully. This is a good primer on Complexion Reduction as a new trend in mobile design. Michael Horton coined the term last year.

Note the stark UI, lack of colour and overall simple interface. These are the trademarks of this new design shift.

Image: Michael Horton

While the reaction to the new design was mixed, the biggest question was why Apple went with this bold new approach on only a few of it’s native apps, leaving a jarring gap in its UI. While many users were left baffled by the typography choices in the new Apple Music app, I found it to be a huge improvement with a UI that was a lot easier to digest.

I thought it would a nice exercise to see how Apple might continue their trend of Complexion Reduction with the upcoming iOS 11 announcement:

The ‘boring’, yet massively used iOS apps

iOS 11 will likely not be a huge overhaul of iOS but just a more hierarchical approach to displaying content, making it more digestable and user friendly.

Podcasts will receive an ‘Apple Music’ style update

Like Music, News, Home and Maps, Apple’s other native apps could hugely benefit from small changes like large tappable text buttons, a lot more white space and large typography for headers.

Apple’s most used app — Messages

Some critics of this approach oppose the large amount of ‘wasted space’, making users scroll more often than maybe they would have previosuly. What is apparent is that users do not care about scrolling, they do it automatically at this point. Mobile experiences are often based around a feed and we have abandoned the idea of a ‘fold’.

Let us know if you have thoughts on this article, or on iOS 11 and how Apple will update the interface and overall user experience.


Philip Joyce | iOS 11, Complexion Reduction & Apple’s New User Interface

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